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The Coolest Path Problem
(2009)

We introduce the coolest path problem, which is a mixture of two well-known problems from distinct mathematical fields. One of them is the shortest path problem from combinatorial optimization. The other is the heat conduction problem from the field of partial differential equations. Together, they make up a control problem, where some geometrical object traverses a digraph in an optimal way, with constraints on intermediate or the final state. We discuss some properties of the problem and present numerical solution techniques. We demonstrate that the problem can be formulated as a linear mixed-integer program. Numerical solutions can thus be achieved within one hour for instances with up to 70 nodes in the graph.

Gas distribution networks are complex structures that consist of
passive pipes, and active, controllable elements such as valves and
compressors. Controlling such network means to find a suitable setting
for all active components such that a nominated amount of gas can be
transmitted from entries to exits through the network, without
violating physical or operational constraints. The control of a
large-scale gas network is a challenging task from a practical point
of view. In most companies the actual controlling process is supported
by means of computer software that is able to simulate the flow of the
gas. However, the active settings have to be set manually within such
simulation software. The solution quality thus depends on the
experience of a human planner.
When the gas network is insufficient for the transport then topology
extensions come into play. Here a set of new pipes or active elements
is determined such that the extended network admits a feasible control
again. The question again is how to select these extensions and where
to place them such that the total extension costs are
minimal. Industrial practice is again to use the same simulation
software, determine extensions by experience, add them to the virtual
network, and then try to find a feasible control of the active
elements. The validity of this approach now depends even more on the
human planner.
Another weakness of this manual simulation-based approach is that it
cannot establish infeasibility of a certain gas nomination, unless all
settings of the active elements are tried. Moreover, it is impossible
to find a cost-optimal network extension in this way.
In order to overcome these shortcomings of the manual planning
approach we present a new approach, rigorously based on mathematical
optimization. Hereto we describe a model for finding feasible
controls and then extend this model such that topology extensions can
additionally and simultaneously be covered. Numerical results for real-world instances are presented and
discussed.

In this paper, we study self-avoiding walks of a given length on a graph. We consider a formulation of this problem as a binary linear program. We analyze the polyhedral structure of the underlying polytope and describe valid inequalities. Proofs for their facial properties for certain special cases are given. In a variation of this problem one is interested in optimal configurations, where an energy function measures the benefit if certain path elements are placed on adjacent vertices of the graph. The most prominent application of this problem is the protein folding problem in biochemistry. On a set of selected instances, we demonstrate the computational merits of our approach.

A model for the optimisation of the location and configuration of base stations in a UMTS network is described. The focus is primarily on modelling the configuration problem sufficiently accurate using mixed-integer variables and (essentially) linear constraints. These constraints reflect the limited downlink code capacity in each cell, the interference limitations for successful up- and downlink transmissions, the need for sufficiently strong (cell) pilot signals, and the potential gain for mobiles from being in soft(er) hand-over. It is also explained how to use the model as a basis for rating network configurations.

The UMTS radio network planning problem poses the challenge of designing a cost-effective network that provides users with sufficient coverage and capacity. We describe an optimization model for this problem that is based on comprehensive planning data of the EU project MOMENTUM. We present heuristic mathematical methods for this realistic model, including computational results.